Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Release Date: 20th April 2016
Second Sight is a dark, grimy thriller that packs a hell of a punch. Ray Pilgrim is a psychic ‘passenger’ who, when induced with narcotics, is able to witness the murders of people he has a connection to, whether looking at their image on television or holding a personal item, and the reader is right in the front seat for the gory action.
Very much in the vein of films such as The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), in which a fashion photographer using violent plan-tableau in her work begins to see through the eyes of a serial killer, and Fear (1990), in which a psychic woman successfully helps the police to capture several serial killers until she comes up against a psychic serial killer whose abilities are greater than hers, the psychic premise is very much grounded in a realistic world.
This is emphasised by David Hine’s dark plot, which circles around a paedophile ring calling itself the Wednesday Club. Reluctantly drawn back into aiding the police with their investigative work by his ambitious activist daughter, who cleverly uses social media to publish her amateur detections on the Wednesday Club, this third issue finds Pilgrim pursuing a previous lead from his past after two deaths related to evidence supposedly proving the existence of the Club.
Strong in its unflinching portrayal of gore, taboo subject matter, and incredibly detailed characterisation, the comic lives up to comparisons to television shows such as True Detective (2014) and Hannibal (2013-2015), both critical and commercial successes. Like the formal construction of these series, we travel back in time in this instalment of the comic to learn more about Pilgrim, his gift and his relationships with his estranged partner and the Detective forced to retire as a result of working with him. Most notably, we are provided with more details as to the disturbing figure known as the Reaper, who appears sporadically throughout the initial two issues; a serial killer who turned the tables and got inside Pilgrim’s head, the Reaper not only became aware of Pilgrim’s psychic passenger abilities, but taunted and performed for Pilgrim with victims. The Reaper appears to be the key to the mystery, meaning that Pilgrim must return to his past.
Albert Ponticelli’s heavy inking lends a noir-ish style to the visuals, aided by John Kalisz’s mixed palette; block pastel colours contrast against the sombre palette of Pilgrim’s mind, when he is a psychic passenger witnessing the murders. This is further enhanced by the level of detail in the penciling which, along with Ponticelli’s unique, rugged character and background design, presents a gritty, grimy cityscape; like the psychical powers possessed by Pilgrim, the rough edges of this world render it raw, open and almost tangible for the reader.
Second Sight is clever, compelling and courageous, tackling taboo subjects and presenting a complex character study that breaks away from all conventions in this genre. It doesn’t get much better than this.
The writer of this piece was: Rebecca Booth
Rebecca Tweets from @rebeccalbooth